Saturday, April 07, 2012

Ve vill make you happy! Whether you like it or not

This new Green/Left proposal seems faintly reasonable at first. Is not happiness in some sense the bottom line for all of us? The idea that the government can make us happy is the funny bit. All the government departments I know of are much better at provoking rage!

But, aside from that, an even bigger fly in the proto-Fascist ointment is that happiness is largely dispositional. We are pretty much born with a pre-set level of happiness and departures from it are both rare and temporary. A common clinical observation is proof of that: Even people who have suffered catastrophic injuries -- such as paraplegics -- seem to bounce back to their original level of happiness after a couple of years. Some people (mainly conservatives) are born happy and positive and some others (Leftists) are born miseries and whiners.

And if you think I am just making propaganda in saying that, I'm not. Surveys of various sorts always show that conservatives are happier. Just one small example here, for instance.

And the whole concept of happiness is surprisingly suspect anyway. German and English are closely related languages and yet German just has no word for happiness. The nearest they can come is to say that they are "lucky" (gluecklich).

That was borne home to me forcefully many years ago when I was talking to an old Jewish gent who had escaped Hitler and ended up in Australia. He was glad to be alive but missed the vibrant cultural life he had known in prewar Germany. We spoke in English but he was aware that I knew some German so when I asked him a how he felt about his escape to Australia he replied: "Gluecklich I am but happy I am not".

And I would be surprised if other languages did not have similar difficulties of translation. I say more about the considerable body of happiness research here
Are you happy? Are Canadians happy, or at least happier than the Americans or the French or the Taiwanese? Would you like to be happier?

At the United Nations on Monday, they took a major step toward a global strategy to enhance your happiness status, and the happiness of everybody else in the world. It’s the new role for governments across the planet. If the UN has its way, the state’s major objective will be to boost your sense of well-being and improve how you feel about your life.

It all began in 1972 in the landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan (pop. 700,000) when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that his Buddhist country (GDP per capita US$5,500) would thereafter pursue economic progress guided not by the harsh and dehumanizing concept of Gross National Product, but by the warm and humanistic principles of Gross National Happiness.

Almost 40 years later in New York on Monday, under the auspices of the Kingdom of the United Nations, the high priests of economic interventionism and wealth redistribution moved one step closer to turning Gross National Happiness into a global paradigm.

They issued a report — the World Happiness Report. They staged a conference — Well-being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm. And they fashioned a declaration — Realizing a World of Sustainable Well-being and Happiness.

The declaration is in turn intended to become part of “a long-term reference framework” for the coming Rio +20 Earth Summit, a grand replay in June this year of Maurice Strong’s 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

At Rio +20, the UN activists hope to change the direction of world economic policy-making. Production goals and measures based on dollars and yen are out. Happiness measures are in — even though the concepts, happiness and “subjective well-being,” remain vacuous bits of quasi-religious sophistry.

The opening paragraphs of Monday’s World Happiness Report — written by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute — set out the transcendental mindset required to deal with the mind-blowing idea of Gross National Happiness or its equivalent.

One of the amazing characteristics of the happiness paradigm as described by Mr. Sachs and others is how remarkably similar its conclusions are to the old interventionism and redistribution policies of the traditional left.

It’s as if the high priests of Occupy the Planet and the Green Apocalypse — having run their old socialist and environmental engines into the ground — have stumbled across a new set of rationalizations and slogans.

To no surprise, with 65/309 as a mandate, the Monday meeting in New York produced a radical declaration calling for the overthrow of the “current economic paradigm” to take into account finite global resource limits and the emerging science of well-being and happiness.

What that means, aside from the same old nitty-gritty policies such as more government job creation, is nothing less than a “redesign of the world economy” and the overthrow of existing economic ideas to be replaced by the pursuit of happiness as defined by the United Nations, not by individuals.



Controlling us for our own good


Public misunderstanding, ignorance and possibly contempt for liberty play into the hands of people who want to control our lives. Responses to my recent column "Compliant Americans" brought this home to me. In it, I argued that the anti-tobacco movement became the template and inspiration for other forms of government intrusion, such as bans on restaurants serving foie gras, McDonald's giving Happy Meals with toys and confiscating a child's home-prepared lunch because it didn't meet Department of Agriculture guidelines. A few responses read like this: "Smoking is different because that actually affects other people. We should be living by the notion that you should be able to do whatever you want as long as you don't hurt other people. Smoking hurts other people."

If we banned or restricted all activities that affect, harm or have the possibility of harming other people, it wouldn't be a very nice life.

Let's look at what can affect or harm other people. Non-obese people are harmed by obesity, as they have to pay more for health care, through either higher taxes or higher insurance premiums. That harm could be reduced by a national version of a measure introduced in the Mississippi Legislature in 2008 by state Rep. W.T. Mayhall that in part read, "An act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the state Department of Health." The measure would have revoked licenses of food establishments that violated the provisions of the act. Fortunately, the measure never passed, but there's always a next time.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010, nearly 33,000 people were killed in auto crashes. That's a lot of harm that could be reduced by lowering the speed limit to 5 or 10 miles an hour. You say, "Williams, that's ridiculous!" What you really mean to say but don't have the courage to is that to save all of those lives by making the speed limit 5 or 10 miles per hour is not worth the inconvenience. Needless to say – or almost so – there are many activities we engage in that either cause harm to others or have the potential for doing so, but we don't ban all of these activities.

One of the least-understood functions of private property rights is that of determining who may harm whom in what ways. In a free society, it is presumed that the air in a person's house, restaurant, hotel, car or place of business is his property. That means that if you own a restaurant and don't want your air polluted by tobacco smoke, it is your right. Most would deem it tyranny if a bunch of smokers had the political power to get the city council to pass an ordinance forcing you to permit smoking. You'd probably deem it more respectful of liberty if those who wanted to smoke sought a restaurant owner who permitted smoking. The identical argument can be made about a restaurant owner who permits smoking in a city where nonsmokers have the political power. The issue is not whether smoking harms others. The issue is the rights associated with property ownership.

The emerging tragedy is our increased willingness to use the coercive powers of government, in the name of health or some other ruse, to forcibly impose our preferences upon others. In the whole scheme of things, the tobacco issue itself is trivial. Far more important is its template for massive government disrespect for private property.

John Adams said, "The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."



Market Order in War-Torn Iraq

In the course of my deployments to Iraq I learned a great deal about economics, though I didn't realize it at the time. I hadn't yet been introduced to the Austrian School or a Rothbardian view of laissez-faire capitalism. Looking back, however, I can see quite clearly that in several important areas voluntary systems not only existed in that country but thrived.

My first deployment was to Baghdad, that ancient Mesopotamian city positioned on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It was there I discovered how, even during the most violent and unstable times, markets can adapt to the needs of consumers and peacefully provide essential services to humanity.

The focus of this article will be on economic provision, rather than the war itself. However, it's important to note that the following free-market solutions have blossomed in spite of being in the heart of a country ravaged by economic sanctions and all but total war. Not only was the US-led war destructive of the physical means to provide such services; it also destroyed the institutions that delivered them, adding to the difficulty in restoring them.

Utility Services

In the United States virtually all utilities are a service provided by government. Whether they are directly controlled by municipal governments or simply regulated to the point of being creatures of those organizations, relatively few cases exist where the market provides utilities unhindered. Baghdad, however, was not so tightly regulated.

Being the capital city, it is home to all of the major government offices and thus has a priority for electrical power; this was true before and after the invasion. However, after a decade of brutal sanctions, followed by a relentless bombing campaign of "shock and awe," the socialized infrastructure was entirely unfit to meet demand. The solution arrived at by the Iraqi people was brilliant.

Taking advantage of economies of scale, residents would pool their resources and either buy a large generator or contract with someone who already owned one. Then a mechanic would be hired to maintain the generator, guarding it against thieves and ensuring it was properly fueled. The more clients a neighborhood had, the lower the consumer cost and higher the profits for the owners.

The one flaw in this system was that fuel was supplied by a centrally planned government agency. As might have been expected, shortages were frequent, leading to power outages. Had fuel been freed from the highly politicized and bureaucratic web of government, there's no doubt an equally innovative and peaceful solution would have arisen to address this need.


Another pocket of freedom that many Iraqis enjoy is in market-based currency, or something similar. After the collapse of Iraq's government, the central bank no longer issued notes for the Iraqi dinar. At this time the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which was the US-lead interim government, began a large-scale influx of the US dollar. Between large shipments of currency from the CPA, and the widespread use of the dollar by hundreds of thousands of troops, its supply quickly increased. And while many thought the result would be large-scale abandonment of the dinar, quite the opposite in fact occurred.

B.K. Marcus describes the result here, wherein the dinar actually increased in value and was in many cases the preferred currency by many in the country. One primary reason seems to be that the value of the dinar remained fairly constant, due to its supply being more stable. But other currencies existed, some fiat-based, others springing from the market.

In another account of the market in Iraq, Edward Gonzales described how in the western region of the country, sheep and bottled water acted as money. Their value floated based on the season and relative quantities of one or the other. While I never witnessed trades made with livestock or other commodities, I did see that not just dinars and dollars were used for exchange.

My second deployment was to the Babel province, south of Baghdad, and the Iranian rial was fairly common there. This was particularly true in the Shia towns and neighborhoods, as might have been expected. I was not familiar with the exchange ratios among the currencies, but all were used in trade. It was not uncommon for a man's wallet to contain two or more of a different states' moneys, even all three at times.

Defense Services

Perhaps the state's longest running and most institutionalized monopoly is that of defense. Advocates of limited government will quickly concede that most services ought to be provided in a free market. This provides incentives for firms to compete for market share, thus raising quality while driving down prices. One service that must be provided by the state, according to everyone from socialists to minarchists, is defense of persons and their property.

Even many who claim to believe steadfastly in free enterprise will concede that defense is the sole purview of government. By doing so they implicitly argue that the same economic laws that govern the provision of trash collection are rendered impotent when applied to defending property. This certainly does not hold water theoretically, nor is it true when applied to the market in Iraq.

In most of the country there were multiple layers of government police and military, and martial law had become the norm. Despite (or perhaps because of) the saturation of the market by government defense monopolists, private services were a valuable commodity. In Baghdad, circa 2005, there were 175,000 US troops engaging various guerilla forces. On top of that, the government's police never bothered with the pretense of scruples and corruption was standard fare. Private security quickly became a profitable enterprise.

It is often suggested by advocates of a free society that, theoretically, defense would be an individual endeavor. So long as individuals are free to own property, goes the argument, they'll be able to arm themselves for protection. This is largely how it played out in Iraq. Each adult male was permitted to own one AK-47 rifle, for personal defense, and gun ownership was nearly ubiquitous. (This allowance was expanded later to allow shotguns for hunting).

As an added layer of protection, many neighborhoods employed night watchmen. These were typically middle-aged men who were contracted by their neighbors to patrol the streets and defend against thieves. Their teenage sons would often assist, and we came to know the groups well. Some took employment in the markets, hired by the business owners to protect commercial interests. Others were posted near residential street corners, keeping a watchful eye on their clients' homes through the night.

These were trusted men in the community, who had found a way to earn a living in a ravaged economy by supplying a highly valued service to their fellow man. They did as good or better a job than we did at securing neighborhoods. Recognizing this, we equipped them with infrared lights, indicating they were friendlies, to help protect them from our helicopter gunships and other units passing through the area at night.


In each of these cases, where proponents of the state argue we must have active government involvement, individuals found voluntary, peaceful solutions to their problems. In spite of the failure by both the Iraqi and US governments to provide essential services, such as adequate electrical power and the defense of property, private solutions quickly sprang up among the violence and disorder. Money too was not something that required a government fiat to make trade possible. The market, unhindered by the state, provided a currency by which individuals could exchange with one another.




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Friday, April 06, 2012

Chag Pesach kasher ve sameach

OR: "Have a kosher and happy Passover holiday!" to my Jewish readers. An interesting dream below:

Pesach this year coincides with Easter Friday and I will make my usual effort to get along to my old Presbyterian church for the service. It's nice to be back where I began.


Easter Service

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Growing up in rural Georgia, Easter meant not only the resurrection of Jesus, but also a new Sunday dress, a hat, gloves and more chocolate than I could eat, at least at one time.

My clearest memory of Easter is not of all the candy that I ate, but of the beauty of the morning as we celebrated Easter during a sunrise service on top of a mountain. I'm not even sure where we were. We had gotten up early and driven a while. It was quite chilly, and I had a sweater wrapped around my shoulders.

The woods surrounded us, and the view was of the valley below. Azaleas were in bloom, and the trees were bright green. As the sun rose, fog came up from the ground, making the cross behind the altar barely visible. The area surrounding the cross was both hazy and bright: hazy from the fog, bright from the sun. The cross became clearer as the sun ascended in the sky and the fog burned off.

As the cross became clearer, the colors of the flowers and trees appeared brighter. The contrast of the cross, the symbol of Jesus' death, and the new growth of the trees and flowers were stark at the time, but now seem a perfect juxtaposition.

As a child, Easter seemed to be more about Jesus' death and his burial. Time was spent wondering during the service: What would a crown of thorns feel like, how would Jesus have been able to carry the cross, how could his mother have borne the loss of her son? Jesus' resurrection was, of course, mentioned, but not focused upon.

As an adult, I find myself spending more time thinking about Jesus' resurrection, what it meant to his disciples and what it means to me. Possibly as the balance of my life becomes shorter, and my eventual demise more evident, it is natural to focus on the life hereafter, rather than focus on death that is coming closer and closer.



Obama is a fake from beginning to end

He must have floated through law school on the basis of his skin color only

After all, someone who graduated from Harvard Law School, edited the Harvard Law Review, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School must be familiar with Marbury v. Madison. As Wikipedia explains, it's an important case:

"Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803) is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in Western history a court invalidated a law by declaring it "unconstitutional." The landmark decision helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the American form of government."

And yet President Obama yesterday implicitly claimed never to have heard of it, allowing him to say regarding Obamacare that it would be an "unprecedented, extraordinary" step for the Supreme Court to overturn legislation passed by a "strong majority of a democratically elected Congress." The precedents go back 209 years and, as Jonah Goldberg pointed out on "Special Report" last night, the Supreme Court has been overturning acts of Congress ever since, on average every 16 months.

So overturning Obamacare would be about as unprecedented as the sun rising in the east tomorrow morning. Actually the precedents go back even further, as Alexander Hamilton mentioned the power of judicial review in Federalist Paper 78, written in 1788. The last president to seriously challenge the court's power to overturn an act of Congress under the doctrine of judicial review was Andrew Jackson, who famously said after one decision he didn't like, "The court has made its decision; now let it enforce it."

The court has overturned laws based on the Commerce Clause as recently as 1995 (United States v. Lopez) and 2000 (United States v. Morrison). Both of those were relatively minor cases, although significant for putting limits on federal power under the Commerce Clause for the first time since the early New Deal.

But major pieces of legislation have also been overturned. The National Recovery Act of 1933 was the last piece of legislation passed during the "Hundred Days." Its purpose was, essentially, to cartelize the entire United States economy under the direction of the National Recovery Administration (the NRA, whose symbol was the famous blue eagle). Franklin Roosevelt called the legislation "the most important and far-reaching ever enacted by the American Congress." But that didn't stop the Supreme Court from overturning it in May 1935, by a vote of 9-0.

The National Recovery Act passed the House by a large majority and the Senate by 46-39. The "strong majority" mentioned by Obama in the passage of Obamacare did not exist. It passed the Senate 60-39 on Christmas Eve, when the Senate, briefly, had a filibuster-proof majority. But by the time a vote neared in the House, that filibuster-proof majority had vanished with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. So the House had to pass the Senate bill unchanged in order to get it to the President's desk. Only much arm-twisting and deal-making allowed the bill to pass the House with a majority of only seven votes, 219-212. It garnered not a single Republican vote in either house, the first time so important a piece of legislation was passed on a totally partisan basis.



Is America slowly sinking into Fascism?

I was recently looking into the divisive issue of U.S. Marine Sgt. Gary Stein, whose position has come under threat due to his criticisms of Barack Obama and his founding of the `Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook Page'. What I discovered was a large number of Americans in support of Stein's right to speak as a citizen (even under Marine regulations) against the unconstitutional actions of any president or presidential candidate. I also discovered a considerable number who wanted to see the soldier dishonorably discharged, or even set upon a noose as punishment.

Surely, we can debate over the details of Marine regulations until our ears bleed, and I could point out several facts that the mainstream media did not cover in their hit pieces on Stein (like the fact that he went to his superiors and asked them to advise him in the handling of his political position long before the present charges against him were ever formulated, and the fact that he followed many of their suggestions.), but ultimately, the regulations of the Marines or the Federal Government are irrelevant. Such laws are transitory, and are usually written so broadly that the authorities of the day can execute them however they wish to fit their needs at the moment. The real question here is one of principle, moral compass, and Constitutionality (a document which is a reflection of eternal natural law). We have to set aside the pointless legalese of defense standards in the case of Sgt. Stein and ask ourselves an important question; do U.S. troops have a right to free speech?

If you believe so, then their rights are not limited or exclusive. They are free to say whatever any other American has a right to say. If you believe they do not, then you have relegated the troops to the position of second class citizens, or even property of the state. There is NO in-between. Discipline and military coherence be damned. Either these men and women have First Amendment protections and are full citizens or they are mechanisms of the government whose civil liberties have been erased.

Even though I understand the psychology behind it, I am still shaken with raw electrical astonishment when confronted by those who support the latter notion that American soldiers are indeed property of the state, that their actions must be dictated by the president and not the Constitution, and that this is required for the military to function.

Very few of these absurd multitudes ever ask what "function" such a military, populated by ethical robots who are blindly subservient to the dictates of a single man, would actually serve?

What good is an unprincipled military? An unprincipled government? An unprincipled society? What reason is there for these constructs to exist? The Nuremberg Trials solidified the reality that soldiers will be held accountable for following criminal orders, and still, there are some who claim that our troops must adopt a shoot first pay later methodology.

I bring up the circumstances of Sgt. Stein to illustrate the situation our nation is currently facing; we are on the threshold of total despotism, where the naysayers who shrugged off the threat of rogue government yesterday suddenly embrace it and support it today. When Stewart Rhodes first formed the Oath Keepers organization, the same talking point was consistently used in an attempt to derail it; "The orders you would refuse to obey could never occur in this country."

And yet, many of the warnings of Oath Keepers have come to pass, including the unlawful disarming of peaceful U.S. citizens during the disaster in New Orleans, the institution of government directed assassination programs of U.S. citizens under Bush and Obama, the passing of NDAA legislation which includes provisions for indefinite detainment of Americans without trial, warrantless wiretapping, surveillance, and even home invasion by authorities is becoming common, and the Obama Administration has put into place several executive orders (including the The National Defense Resources Preparedness EO) which pave the way for Martial Law to be declared.

The cold hard reality is, the Oath Keepers were right, and Sgt. Stein is right.

And, now that this is becoming undeniable, the opponents of their tenets are switching gears to fight for the implementation of unconstitutional laws which they used to deny were even possible. Can this situation be any more insane? Oh yes.

There are no limits to the surrealist hell that can be unleashed when dealing with what I like to call the "Slave Mentality". The slave mentality takes many shapes. It is pervasive in times of social distress, and, it can be infectious. The psychologist Carl Jung wrote in his book `The Undiscovered Self' that the cruel sociopathy seen in the populations of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia is actually latent in many of us. All it needs is the right set of sociopolitical circumstances and a weak enough will, and the shadows in the hearts of lesser men are given license to come out and play. This is just as true in America, where people now operated on assumptions that the state is an absolute provider in the event of national calamity.

What I have seen in a number of the reactions to the honest activism of Sgt. Gary Stein is a knee-jerk bias that reeks of the slave mentality, but it offers us a window in gauging the leanings of the general public. Now that the once theoretical dangers of federal fascism are breaking the surface of the water and circling the American sinking ship, the great test is to watch closely where the masses place their priorities. Will they take the path of the individual, admit to the laboratory mutation that our government has become, and try to make things right again? Or, will they take the path of the slave, forget their past follies and empty arguments, and jump on the totalitarian bandwagon?



An uncivil income tax system

by Jeff Jacoby

EACH YEAR in the United States, an estimated 6.1 billion hours are spent complying with the federal tax code. I'm pretty sure at least half of those hours are spent by me.

With less than two weeks remaining before this year's tax returns are due, I've barely made a dent in my stack of forms, receipts, and instructions. Each year the prospect of doing my taxes looms more daunting and dismal than the year before. Each year I wonder where I'll find the time, never mind the patience, to get it done. Each year's tax ordeal seems to require more mental energy, more double-checking of math, more scouring of check registers and credit-card statements and brokerage records. And yet when I finally hit that "Send" button, I'm less certain than ever that I haven't inadvertently screwed something up. And if that's true for someone like me, whose financial arrangements are not especially abstruse, how much more miserable tax season must be for taxpayers whose circumstances are more elaborate.

Some people claim they file their tax returns cheerfully. They approvingly quote Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s dictum that "taxes are what we pay for civilized society." I quote instead that eminent commentator Dave Barry: "It's income-tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil and stab yourself in the aorta."

Not surprisingly, the Internal Revenue Service embraces Holmes's words. They are chiseled over the entrance to the IRS headquarters in Washington, DC. Yet I doubt whether Holmes, who retired from the Supreme Court in 1932, would think there was anything civilized about what the federal tax system has turned into, or the burdens, confusions, and complexity it imposes on honest taxpayers.

When Holmes first expressed that sentiment about taxes and civilization in a 1904 speech, the federal income tax didn't even exist. That had changed by 1927, when Holmes's phrase appears in one of his dissenting opinions. But even then, all of federal tax law -- not just the Sixteenth Amendment and Revenue Act of 1913, but the entire corpus of related regulations, rulings, and forms -- took up fewer than 500 pages. Today, the Standard Federal Tax Reporter runs to 73,608 pages in 25 volumes, and consumes nine feet of shelf space.

Is it any wonder, then, that the paperwork, record-keeping, calculations, form-preparation, and filing procedures required to pay federal taxes have become one of the great soul-crushing time sinks in American life? Or that the National Taxpayer Advocate (the independent ombudsman within the IRS) declared flatly last year that "the most serious problem facing taxpayers - and the IRS - is the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code"? Or that the Tax Foundation concluded in 2005 that income-tax compliance costs amounted to a stunning $265.1 billion -- in effect, "a 22-cent . surcharge for every dollar the income tax system collects"?

By now the great majority of individual tax filers has decided that putting together their tax returns without paying for help isn't feasible. According to a 2011 MarketTools study, only 12 percent of US taxpayers still complete their federal income taxes without hiring an accountant, visiting a tax-preparation firm such as H&R Block, or buying tax-preparation software. I gave up trying to prepare my returns by hand years ago; like tens of millions of other Americans, I now put my fate in the hands of TurboTax.

All of which is terrific for the tax-preparation industry, and perhaps April is anything but the cruelest month for those who make their living as a CPA or own stock in Intuit (which makes TurboTax). For the nation as a whole, however, the labyrinthine tortures of our tax system have serious social consequences.

Our tax code's lack of clarity -- and the flood of special-interest giveaways and preferences that make it so cumbersome -- has turned innumerable taxpayers into cynics. Americans conclude that the whole setup is rigged, and that only a sucker doesn't bend the rules in order to pay less or finagle a bigger refund. How many people who wouldn't think of ripping off a local charity or business don't hesitate to cheat on their taxes? In such an environment, it isn't only compliance rates that suffer. Some of the civic virtue so important to a healthy society is lost as well. Jimmy Carter was right in 1976 when he called the US income tax "a disgrace to the human race." Thirty-six years later, it's more disgraceful -- and maddening -- than ever.




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Thursday, April 05, 2012

What Left-Wing Law Professors Really Think About You, and the Role of Lawyers

Hans Bader

You’re just a lab rat to be socially re-engineered by activist judges and lawyers — who think they know how to run your life better than you do — or a chump to be fleeced for lawyers’ enrichment. That’s the message some law professors apparently instill in students at Howard University: “At Howard, they tell us as soon as we get there, ‘If you’re going to be a lawyer, you’re either a social engineer or a parasite on society,’” a student at Howard declared. “That’s how I think about life, is to be a social engineer.” (Although Howard University is nominally “private” and thus not accountable to taxpayers, it is directly “funded by the U.S. Government, which gives approximately $235 million annually” to it in special appropriations.)

Promoting social engineering by lawyers (through “institutional-reform” lawsuits brought by left-wing lawyers and law-school clinics) is a bad idea. Left-wing law professors are a bossy lot: some want to ban conservative or politically-incorrect speech as “hostile-environment harassment,” control what you eat and drink, control your sex life (they view heterosexual sex as patriarchal and thus “consensual rape”), raise your taxes through state-court decrees ordering increased funding of government programs, and take away your property (and your children, if you home-school them). They also often lack common sense, or a grasp of certain basic realities of life. One of my professors at Harvard Law School was notorious among his colleagues for behaving as if on drugs. Another of my professors, the radical Duncan Kennedy, who was so prominent and respected among law professors that he was called the “Pope” of the “Critical Legal Studies” movement, advocated rotating the law professors and the janitors into each others’ jobs. (The janitors liked the idea of being paid like law professors, but had no interest in teaching law, and thought Kennedy’s idea was flaky. Kennedy himself was married to a wealthy heiress, and did not need a law professor’s handsome salary to live on. America would be better off being run by Harvard Law School’s modest, hard-working janitors than by its mostly left-wing law professors.)

As I noted earlier, much of what law schools teach their students is useless drivel, and law schools routinely exaggerate their students’ job prospects. Thus, there is no reason to require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam. As law professor Paul Campos notes, legal education is often a rip-off, since the typical law professor has virtually no real-world experience practicing law, and “knows nothing about being a lawyer.” But since most states require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam, law schools have been able to increase tuition by nearly 1,000 percent in real terms.

A New York Times article last year described how law-school educations for newly-hired corporate lawyers were so worthless that they didn’t know the basics, such as what a merger is, and how to draft the simplest legal forms needed for a merger, even though they’d spent up to $150,000 for a legal “education” at law school.

As I noted earlier in the Times,
I learned about trendy ideological fads and feminist and Marxist legal theory while at Harvard Law School. But I did not learn many basic legal principles, such as in contract law and real estate law, until I took a commercial bar-exam preparation course after law school. Getting rid of the requirement that students attend law school before taking the bar exam would save many students a fortune in student loan debt. It would also force law schools to improve their courses to attract students who now have no choice but to attend.

Law schools routinely sacrifice common sense to left-wing ideology: a classic example is Tulane’s decision to give a convicted murderer a scholarship to attend its law school, even though he most likely could never be admitted to the Bar given his criminal record.

Many state-funded law-school clinics effectively sue state taxpayers, both by suing businesses in their home state (thus killing jobs), and by suing their state governments to demand increases in government spending on various programs — something discussed at length in Walter Olson’s recent book Schools for Misrule.

Earlier generations of lawyers were more leery about the cost to society of lawsuits. They also had a more favorable view of lawyers’ role in defending property rights, and in helping people reach mutually-agreeable settlements. They rejected the idea that lawyers should be parasites who profit from legal strife. Abraham Lincoln was a prominent lawyer for the Illinois Central Railroad. He did not view lawsuits as the way to fix the world, much less as a form of social engineering. As he once advised,
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. . .A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it.



Did Barack Obama Campaign Threaten Life of Chelsea Clinton to Keep Parents Silent on Obama’s Ineligibility?

I am not sure what to make of the story below. I think it needs corroboration. On the other hand, I wouldn't put anything past Obama and his minions. Leftists constantly tell us that "There's no such thing as right and wrong" so it should not surprise us if they act in accordance with that belief -- JR

Most people in the US, especially Democrats, believe that the Obama Birther Movement was started by Republicans and or the Tea Party. They believe it is a smear campaign aimed to tarnish the image of their hero of change. But they may be shocked to learn that the Birther Movement was actually started by former President Bill Clinton and Hillary back in 2008.

Bettina Viviano was a vice president with Amblin Enterntainment, Steven Spielberg’s company, before launching her own film production company in 1990. In 2008, Viviano was asked to produce a documentary about voter fraud within the Democratic Party. At the time, she says she was not a Democrat or a Republican and in fact had never voted in an election. She went into the project with the sole purpose of producing the best and most accurate documentary possible.

During the documentary process, Viviano says that she quickly became aware of just how dangerous and insidious the Obama campaign was. A number of the Democrats she interviewed refused to appear on camera and told her that their lives and property had been threatened by people working with the Obama campaign.

She also heard former President Bill Clinton say that Obama was not eligible to be president because of his lack of birth records. In fact, she said it was common knowledge around many top Democrats. Bill Clinton has often said that he would go public with the information when the time was right.

Before that could happen, his close friend and head of the Arkansas Democratic Party, Bill Gwatney was murdered in his office and then someone told Bill that he was next if he said anything about Obama’s eligibility. In the video below, she said that Clinton was not intimidated until someone associated with the Obama campaign told him that his daughter Chelsea would be next if he opened his mouth. From that point on, the Clinton’s remained silent about Obama’s birth certificate or lack thereof.

This is a powerful video from a lady that has nothing to gain and probably everything to lose by coming forward with her information. It could well ruin her career in Hollywood as so many of the film industry are flaming liberals. It could also cost her her life.

I took note of how she described the Obama campaign’s reign of terror and intimidation and how well coordinated it was. I thought to myself that if they were bold enough to threaten the life of the Clinton’s daughter then have they made similar threats to all of the leading Republicans in both the House and Senate? Is this why Congress has remained so silent ever since Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s March 1st news conference where he provided the American people with the evidence that Obama’s birth certificate and Selective Service Cards are forgeries?

When you see how blatantly Obama has defied the US Constitution and federal law without any apology or excuses, it’s not hard to believe that he, like every other dictator in history, obtained his position by intimidation, threats and outright violence. Knowing he is capable of this has to make every single American extremely fearful if Obama gets re-elected.

And if the voter fraud will be as prevalent in November as it was in 2008, it seems a sure thing that he will be re-elected. Obama has had the DOJ strike down every voter ID law and any other measure taken, to reduce the chance of voter fraud. They have set the stage for an old fashioned Chicago style election with padded and illegal votes. Wait a minute, he is a Chicago politician, so guess he’s just following local history at a national level.



Americans Want More Control Over Their Own Health Care

ObamaCare's popular provisions lose their appeal once Americans are confronted with the consequences

With the three-day ObamaCare circus at the Supreme Court behind us, let’s fast-forward to June. Suppose that five justices find their constitutional bearings and do what a majority of Americans want them to do: Scrap the individual mandate, the key provision without which the law will collapse. What then?

Will that mean that our current system can just lumber along as is? No. America’s health care system is wasteful, inefficient and way too expensive: The U.S. retail price for an MRI, excluding professional fees, exceeds $4,000—about 20 times more than in Japan and France. This makes it extremely hard for Americans without coverage to spring for their own care, creating a system of medical haves and have-nots. It is not surprising, therefore, that a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll earlier this month found that six out of 10 Americans want lawmakers to keep searching for workable reforms even if the Supreme Court eventually kills the president’s reform law.

But any reform has to be based on the correct diagnosis of the problem. The administration's main argument for ObamaCare's mandate—that unless every freeloader is forced to buy coverage, we won’t be able to control spiraling health care costs—is a total red herring. The cost of uncompensated emergency care in America adds up to only about $40.7 billion annually, less than 3 percent of the country’s total health care spending. Arguably, even if hospitals were not legally required to treat uninsured patients, they would provide that amount of care pro bono—just as they do in India, a far poorer country. Many private, for-profit hospitals I queried during a previous visit reported treating up to 10 percent of their patients for free. American law firms, by comparison, aim to offer 3 to 5 percent of their billable hours in pro bono services.

But the question remains: What kind of reforms do Americans want? The Obama administration completely misread the public mood when it based its decision to craft a 2,700-page, Rube Goldberg-style makeover of literally one-sixth of our economy on polls suggesting that Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes for universal coverage. Worse, a joint Reason-Rupe poll released last week found that the misnamed Affordable Care Act—a.k.a. ObamaCare—imposed trade-offs that Americans were simply unwilling to accept. The act’s supporters insist that even though a majority of Americans view the overall law unfavorably, many of its specific provisions are quite popular. But the problem is that most polls pose questions in a vacuum, without actually confronting Americans with the consequences of their choices. The Reason-Rupe poll was among the few to do so systematically, and it found that although Americans do want equity and coverage for all, they want control, choice and quality for themselves even more.

Like other polls, it found that Americans don’t want the government forcing them to buy coverage, although they were more amenable to employers being forced to provide coverage to employees, even if that means job losses and pay cuts. Indeed, 56 percent of respondents said they were fine with an employer mandate, compared to the 39 percent who said they were not.

Americans like the idea of giving everyone the same access to health care, regardless of medical status—except if it means sacrificing affordability or quality. Fifty-two percent approved of the community rating provision in the law, which would ban insurance companies from charging higher premiums based on medical history, compared to 39 percent who opposed it. But this support drops precipitously if the provision’s side effects include longer wait times for doctors (41 percent) or higher premiums (38 percent) or higher taxes (37 percent) or lower-quality care (15 percent).

But what was truly revealing was how eager Americans are to control their own health care dollars. Forty-eight percent said they’d prefer it if their employers gave them the money to purchase their own coverage, compared to 41 percent who would not. Even more remarkably, 65 percent of Americans want Medicare payouts in the form of a credit for use toward a private health plan, compared to 24 percent who don’t. This is good news for Rep. Paul Ryan’s “premium support” proposal for Medicare reform.

All of this makes perfect sense in light of another finding. When asked to rate how much they trust various entities in “addressing their health care needs,” 61 percent said they have a “great deal of trust” in themselves—but only 15 percent said that of their employers, and 5 percent of the government.

What’s more, Americans want to make their own coverage decisions. Almost 70 percent said they want the same ability to shop around for “a less expensive or better [health] insurance policy” as they have for their auto insurance.

So what are the implications of all this for health care reform? Americans are not dogmatically opposed to government intervention in health care markets. But their intuitions are more in line with advocates of consumer-based medicine who believe that the best way to control spiraling costs—the key to improving access—is to give patients more control over their medical dollars and inject a modicum of price sensitivity into our health care system.

If the Supreme Court relegates ObamaCare to the dustbin of history, Congress ought to bear that in mind when it crafts a revised bill. The last thing the country needs is another failed reform effort.




"Married" homosexuals sue for immigration rights: "Immigration advocates have filed a lawsuit on behalf of several married gay couples, alleging a federal law violates their constitutional rights by preventing them from sponsoring their spouses for green cards. The complaint, which challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act, was filed in federal court in Brooklyn by Immigration Equality, an advocacy group."

WA: Court says employer can’t fire mentally ill worker: "In his time at Cottonwood Financial, Sean Reilly had overcome much. He had risen the company ranks from assistant to head store manager, and even won performance awards in spite of his bipolar disorder. Yet he claims that when he requested leave in 2007 to give him time to adjust to a new medication, he was fired. Reilly filed suit, alleging employment discrimination under federal disability law, and on Thursday, the District Court for Eastern Washington ordered the financial services company to pay Reilly a total of $56,500 in damages."

Why Does Department Of Homeland Security Need 450 MILLION Hollow Point Bullets?: "Somebody out there has decided that the Department of Homeland Security needs a whole lot of ammunition. Recently it was announced that ATK was awarded a contract to provide up to 450 MILLION hollow point bullets to the Department of Homeland Security over the next five years. Is it just me, or does that sound incredibly excessive? What in the world is the DHS going to do with 450 million rounds? What possible event would ever require that much ammunition? If the United States were ever invaded, it would be the job of the U.S. military to defend the country, so that can't be it. So what are all of those bullets for? Who does the Department of Homeland Security plan to be shooting at?"



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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Media distortion bears fruit as Harvard academic laps it up without checking

The following paragraph was written by Nancy Gertner, a retired US District Court judge, and a professor at Harvard Law School:
"Nothing prevents the Sanford police from critically evaluating Zimmerman’s account, as police do in so many situations, and concluding that it was contradicted by the girlfriend’s account, by 911 tapes of other bystanders shortly before the killing, that it makes no sense for Martin to start a fight since Zimmerman obviously had a gun in a holster, was substantially larger than Martin, since the encounter took place close to where Martin was staying and he was moments away from safety."

She's accepted uncritically the relevance of all those pretty media pictures showing Martin when he was about 12 years old. She really thinks that Zimmerman was the tall one -- when in fact Martin was 6" taller than Zimmerman.

What a clown she is! If that's what passes for proper judicial scrutiny at Harvard, we are all in big trouble. Anybody who appeared before when she was a judge and lost his case should take a screenshot of her original article above and use it to petition for a re-opening of his case.

I've got a question for the learned lady. What would she feel if she found the guy in the photo below looking down on her on a dark night?

Because that's a picture of the 17 year old 6'3" Trayvon Martin that Zimmerman encountered. And don't forget that it is she, not I who said that height is important.

The first time I saw the media pictures of Martin and then read his age I smelt a rat. Blind Freddy would know that a normal black male would be at or near full physical maturity at age 17 -- as Martin indeed was -- so why were they showing pictures of what looked like a 12-year-old kid? Easy answer: The whole thing is a media beatup designed to sell newspapers. And people lacking in critical thinking ability -- such as Harvard faculty -- fell for it hook line and sinker.

And if you think it's not a beatup consider the two cases below for contrast:

Shawn Tyson (above) was sentenced this week for murdering two white British tourists in Florida. No rallies against violence and no charges of racism. Tyson even referred to his victims as "crackers" so it was a clear hate crime.

Terry Moore, 32, was beaten this week by a mob of black males. Again, no rallies against racism; no public outpouring of support for the victim. Such black-on-White violence is the norm and only rarely makes it to anything but local headlines.



The Invincible Dogma

Thomas Sowell

A long-standing legal charade was played out again recently, when Federal Express paid $3 million to settle an employment discrimination case brought by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Federal Express was accused of both racial discrimination and sex discrimination. FedEx denied it.

Why then did they pay the $3 million? Because it can cost a lot more than $3 million to fight a discrimination case. Years ago, the Sears department store chain spent $20 million fighting a sex discrimination charge that took 15 years to make its way through the legal labyrinth. In the end, Sears won -- if spending $20 million and getting nothing in return can be called winning.

Federal Express was apparently not prepared to spend that kind of money and that kind of time fighting a discrimination case. The net result is that the government and much of the media can now claim that race, sex and other discrimination are rampant, considering how many anti-discrimination cases have been "won."

At the heart of these legal charades is the prevailing dogma that statistical disparities in employment -- or mortgage lending, or anything else -- show discrimination. In both the Federal Express case and the earlier Sears case, statistical differences between the mix of the workforce and the population mix were the key evidence presented to show discrimination.

In the Sears case, there was not even one woman who worked in any of the company's 900 stores who claimed to have been discriminated against. It was all a matter of statistics -- and of the arbitrary dogma that statistical disparities show discrimination.

Once statistical disparities have been demonstrated, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove his innocence, contrary to centuries of legal tradition that the burden of proof in on the accuser.

No burden of proof whatever is put on those who argue as if there would be a random distribution of racial and other groups in the absence of discrimination.

Happenstances may be random but performances seldom are. Most people are right-handed but, among major league hitters with lifetime batting averages of .330 and up, there have been 15 left-handed batters and only 5 right-handed batters since the beginning of the 20th century. All the best-selling beers in the United States were created by people of German ancestry. Anyone who follows professional basketball knows that most of the leading stars are black.

Some years ago, a study of National Merit Scholarship finalists found that more than half were first-born children, even in five-child families. Jews are less than one percent of the world's population but they won 14 percent of the Nobel Prizes in literature and the sciences during the first half of the 20th century, and 29 percent during the second half.

It would be no problem at all to fill this whole column -- or this entire page -- with examples from around the world of gross statistical disparities in outcomes, in situations where discrimination was not involved. But those who take the opposite view -- that numbers show discrimination -- do not have to produce one speck of evidence to back up that sweeping conclusion.

Human beings are not random events. Individuals and groups have different histories, cultures, skills and attitudes. Why would anyone expect them to be distributed anywhere in a pattern based on statistical theories of random events? Much less make the absence of such a pattern become a basis for multimillion dollar lawsuits?

However little evidence or logic there may be behind the belief that an absence of random distribution shows discrimination, there are nevertheless strong incentives for some people to cling to that belief anyway. Those who lag behind -- whether educationally, economically or otherwise -- have every incentive to think of themselves as victims of those who are more successful.

Those who want their votes have every incentive to go along, or even to actively promote that idea. So do those who want to see issues as moral melodramas, starring themselves on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. The net result is an invincible dogma -- and a polarized country.



They Don’t Know Us

Dennis Prager

Apparently, many liberals were disappointed in the administration’s performance before the Supreme Court. They felt that the government’s lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, did not respond effectively to the challenges of some of the conservative justices.

The editor of Commentary, John Podhoretz, offered an explanation on his magazine’s blog. “American liberals,” he wrote, “know their own language, but they don’t know the language of their ideological and partisan opposite numbers. ... Conservatives speak liberal, but for liberals in the United States, conservatism might as well be Esperanto.”

I have argued this point for many years. In my book to be published later this month ("Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph"), I argue that the left is a victim of its own brainwash. How could they not be? All they hear, see and read from childhood on, from elementary school through graduate school, on TV and in the movies, are leftist ideas.

Yet this is not true for conservatives. One would have to grow up in a silent monastery not to be regularly exposed to liberal and leftist ideas.

For 30 years, I have had leading left-wing thinkers on my radio show, and I continue to be shocked at their lack of awareness of conservative arguments. About two years ago, for example, I asked one of the most powerful Democratic members of Congress -- a major force behind every tax increase -- what tax rate he thought might be too high. He replied that he had not given it thought. I asked a leading liberal writer who maintained that all American wars since World War II had been imperialist if he thought the Korean War was also imperialistic. He replied that he didn’t know enough about that war to respond.

After interviewing leftists, liberal listeners frequently ask me why I don’t invite the best liberals on to my show.

The answer is that I have had some of the best liberals on my show. They just don’t tend to do well when challenged by thoughtful conservatives.

That may be why the majority of influential liberals refuse to go on conservative talk radio or to debate conservatives.



Economic “Recovery” Is Slow and Weak Due to Obama Administration Policies

Usually, after the economy suffers an unusually severe recession, it bounces back in an unusually rapid recovery — what some economists and others refer to as the “rubber-band effect.” But not now. Despite the huge worldwide fall in GDP in 2008-09, the economy has experienced only a weak recovery, with fewer people employed in America today than when President Obama took office. “At this point in the typical post-World War II recovery, the economy was growing at an average pace of nearly 5 percent. The Obama recovery has managed just over 2 percent.” As James Pethokoukis notes in the New York Post,
A Federal Reserve study from late last year looked at the behavior of recoveries from recessions across 59 advanced and emerging market economies during the last 40 years. The Fed found, to no great surprise, that recoveries “tend to be faster” after severe recessions, such as the one we just had. . .The deeper the downturn, the more robust the rebound — unless government messes things up.

For example, during the 1981-82 recession, output fell by 2.7 percent and then rose by 15.9 percent over the next 10 quarters (at an average pace of 6.0 percent). During the Great Recession, output fell even more, by 5.1 percent. But during the 10 quarters since, total economic output is up only a paltry 6.2 percent. Score one for Reaganomics.

But what about the depressing effect of Wall Street’s near-death experience back in 2008 and 2009? Well, that same Fed study found that bank or other financial crises “do not affect the strength” of subsequent recoveries. . .[What] might explain half of the Obama recovery’s underperformance versus the Reagan recovery. . .? Maybe we can attribute that to policy differences.

While one president cut long-term marginal tax rates, the other tried a massive burst of federal spending. One empowered private enterprise; the other empowered government.

Obama administration policies are preventing more jobs from being created. Obamacare is causing layoffs in the medical device industry, and is preventing some employers from hiring and from making the investments needed for new jobs and expanded operations. The Dodd-Frank law backed by President Obama has also wiped out jobs and driven thousands of jobs overseas. Recent EPA rules will wipe out hundreds of thousands of jobs. Andrew Stiles describes ten job-destroying regulations from the Obama Administration.

Another job-killing regulation is the Obama administration’s recent demand that trucking companies employ alcoholics as truckers rather than assigning them to less safety-sensitive positions — a demand that will lead to costly lawsuits against trucking companies by accident victims, and thus may discourage people from setting up new trucking companies. Another impediment to hiring is the Obama EEOC’s current practice of suing some employers who consider applicants’ arrest records and criminal convictions in hiring. If you were thinking of starting a new business, wouldn’t you be less likely to do so if you thought you would have no freedom as to whom you could hire, and no freedom to consider someone’s dangerousness or the content of their character before hiring them? (Economists say that requiring employers to ignore criminal convictions actually increases minority unemployment). The EEOC is also stepping up its attacks on certain employers who use merit-based criteria for hiring, like requiring a high-school diploma. And it is seeking to impose hiring quotas based on disability on the 200,000 employers who receive federal contracts — that is, the nation’s principal employers.

Contrary to his campaign promise of a “net spending cut,” Obama has substantially increased government spending. Legislation passed under the Obama administration has also required states to increase their spending, and incur large unfunded mandates that will lead either to increased state budget deficits or substantial state tax increases. The $800 billion stimulus package contained so-called “green jobs” funding, 79 percent of which went to foreign firms, effectively replacing American jobs with foreign green jobs. A recent biofuel program actually wiped out jobs rather than creating them as intended, while costing taxpayers a lot of money.

As Terry Catchpole noted earlier in The New York Times, Obama administration policies have wiped out jobs at companies like his:
Two years ago our executive communications company had 17 employees. Today it has seven . . . like many small businesses, we are dependent on big businesses as customers. And the big businesses that we would ordinarily depend on to become clients are sitting on their cash, because they are deathly afraid of an Obama administration that has been hostile to business . . . They have no idea where the administration’s next attack is coming from, and how much it is going to cost them to defend. So businesses do not spend money; they do not hire my company; and we cannot hire back those 10 good people we had to let go.




SCOTUS approves strip searches for minor offenses: "The routine strip search of those accused of minor offenses does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures whenever the detainee is to be housed within a general jail population, the US Supreme Court ruled on Monday. In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court said that officials at a jail or prison facility do not need individualized suspicion that a detainee is concealing a weapon or contraband before conducting a visual inspection of the most private areas of a person’s body." [The Bill of Rights takes another beating]

CA: Federal court upholds ban on racial, gender discrimination: "California’s ban on using race or gender as a factor in college admissions survived another legal challenge Monday when a federal appeals court upheld the law passed by state voters more than 15 years ago. ... In October, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on whether race-based affirmative action programs are legal."



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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Democrats: Do as we say, not as we do

The Leftist immigration lawyer below accuses the GOP of bad faith in their approach to a White House regulatory reform

But who is responsible for the bad faith? When Obama releases tens of thousands of illegals even after they are caught, how can anyone have faith that he is honestly doing his best to enforce the laws he has sworn to uphold? It is his actions that make all that he proposes automatically untrustworthy and worthy of rejection. If you play a rough game, you've got to expect the other side to do likewise

If illegal immigration were under control the proposals might be reasonable and acceptable, but it is not under control. As it is, they are just another way of weakening the small amount of deterrence that still exists in American immigration practice

If Obama wants co-operation, why doesn't he start deporting ALL illegals who are apprehended and blow a large trumpet declaring that he is doing that?

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is chair of the House Judiciary Committee or the head of the "Just Say No To Any Immigration Solution" crowd.

As if on cue, Smith criticized a processing tweak -- proposed Friday by the Obama administration -- which will allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. while the Department of Homeland Security determines whether or not denial of their green card would cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen spouse or parent. Smith's predictable knee-jerk reaction included the same old tired claim that the administration was trying to pull an "end around" the immigration law. I expect Smith's restrictionist friends will soon chime in with a hearty chorus of "backdoor amnesty".

Smith should have read the proposed rule change before he opened his mouth. Under the law -- which, contrary to what Smith claims, would not change one bit under the administration's proposal -- undocumented husbands, wives, sons and daughters of U.S. citizens cannot apply for a green card in the U.S. Yet, when they leave the U.S. to get right with the immigration law, they are barred by statute from returning for up to 10 years -- kind of a legal "Catch-22".

Immigrants who face the unlawful presence bar can ask the government for a waiver if they can prove their U.S. citizen spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship -- a very difficult standard to meet. Unfortunately, due to backlogs, the overseas waiver process takes months, sometimes even years. In the meantime immigrants remain stuck abroad, separated from their loved ones in the U.S. Over the years immigrants have been seriously injured, even murdered, while waiting in dangerous cities like Ciudad Juarez.

Lost in Smith's reflexive denunciation is that the rule change would do little more than allow an immigrant to file a waiver application in the U.S. before going abroad to apply for an immigrant visa. The rigors of the law have not been altered one bit: the applicant still must meet the exacting legal standard of proving his spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship and, if the waiver is granted, the applicant still must leave the U.S. to apply for the immigrant visa abroad. Smith also fails to note that the administrative change will reduce backlogs at U.S. embassies, leading to more efficient government and smarter enforcement.

If Lamar Smith were truly interested in making the immigration system work for American families he would wholeheartedly support the administration's stateside waiver proposal. The proposal is far from perfect and needs several key adjustments, but it is a welcome step in the right direction. If implemented, it will keep American families safe and together, make visa processing more efficient and secure, and guard the rule of law. The nation deserves Congressional leaders who are committed to fixing America's broken immigration system, not politicians who offer little more than hot air.



The Hutaree "militia" case unravels

The case was designed to fuel hysteria against conservative groups in the early days of the Obama administration. The Leftist pretence was that conservatives are just as dangerous as Muslims

"We haven't worked a year and a half on this investigation and risked [an undercover agent's] life to walk away from this with 3 arrests," groused the secret police investigator two years ago. By that time it had become clear the FBI wouldn’t be able to manufacture a successful criminal conspiracy out of a few trivial firearms violations and a surfeit of anti-government rhetoric.

The Hutaree was the first non-Muslim "domestic extremist" group to be cast as the lead in one of the Bureau’s post-911 Homeland Security Theater productions. U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts, who was able to see the plot holes in the FBI’s implausible script, had the character and good sense – traits otherwise all but impossible to find on the bench – to dismiss the case with prejudice [i.e. She barred re-opening the case]

In her order granting the defense motion for summary judgment, Roberts – who had previously expressed severe skepticism regarding the supposed merits of the case – lambasted the Feds for repeatedly venturing beyond "inference to pure speculation" and "attempting to formulate an alternative theory of criminal liability" when it became clear that they couldn’t provide tangible evidence of intent to commit an overt criminal act. This resulted in a theory of the case "based primarily on two conversations … the first on August 13, 2009, and the second on February 20, 2010."

The Hutaree "militia" was a loosely organized group of obscure people united by their entirely commendable hostility toward the criminal clique calling itself the United States Government. They apparently shared a set of apocalyptic beliefs about the imminent rise of the Antichrist, and they engaged in survivalist training in anticipation of the End Times, when they might confront the necessity to use defensive force against government agents – whether foreign or domestic – in league with the enemy.

The original indictment – which Judge Roberts eviscerated in a preliminary ruling – accused the Michigan dissidents of making material preparations to carry out specific criminal acts. When it was shown that there was no evidence to support that charge, the Feds shifted their focus and charged them with "seditious conspiracy," which consisted of expressing opinions about government corruption and making physical preparations to for self-defense against criminal violence perpetrated by government authorities.

Citing a Supreme Court precedent (Russell v. United States, 1962) holding that the prosecution isn’t "free to roam at large – to shift its theory of criminality so as to take advantage of each passing vicissitude of the trial," Roberts observed that the Feds were not free to "say that the alleged plan set forth [in the original indictment] is irrelevant." Yet that’s precisely what they attempted to do.

Although the supposed police assassination plot was central to the case against the Hutaree, "the Government did not provide sufficient proof of the existence of a conspiracy at all," ruled Judge Roberts. "The Government says it is not certain whether the Hutaree intended to initiate the conflict, or simply engage in it once it was initiated by others."

While Hutaree members frequently engaged in what were described as "diatribes" against law enforcement, "all of this speech is protected by the First Amendment," Roberts observed. Expressing hatred for the government’s enforcement caste "is not the same as seditious conspiracy."

Under the Government’s theory of the case, Roberts noted, one could be charged with "sedition" simply through his or her "mere presence at the scene" when a Hutaree activist spoke about "going to war and killing police."

One of the defendants, Tina Mae Stone, was described by the Feds as an "active, engaged and vocal member" of the purported conspiracy because she overheard two conversations – one regarding a planned trip to Kentucky by David Stone, Sr. and the federal informant, and a second that took place in an FBI-rented warehouse in which the provocateur "discussed explosives" with Mr. Stone.

The latter conversation touched on the subject of using coffee cans and wine bottles to make improvised explosively formed projectiles (EFPs). Ms. Stone joked that "she would take one for the team and drink more wine, presumably so that the bottles could be used to make explosives," Roberts recounts. The Feds characterized that wisecrack as evidence that she had "played an active, unhesitant, and continuing role in obtaining materials to use in building EFPs" – despite the fact that she was present for only one meeting with the Hutaree co-defendants, and never provided them with anything.

Following dismissal of the case, Hutaree defendant Michael Meeks, a 42-year-old former Marine, said that the salient lesson taught by the case was the need for Americans to "watch what you say. Even the most innocent of statements can be used against you."

Actually, the lesson is that anything said in your presence can be used against you – and if a sufficiently incriminating remark isn't forthcoming from you or your friends, the Feds can always pay somebody to perform on cue, and on camera.

While the Feds didn’t succeed in imprisoning the Hutaree defendants for life, they were able to steal more than two years of their respective lives through pre-trial incarceration.

As a consolation prize, the Feds were able to extort guilty pleas from David Stone, Sr. and his son Joshua on weapons charges, which could result in prison terms.

Although U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade – the Madam DeFarge behind this case – wasn’t able to feed the defendants to the guillotine, she expressed a measure of vindictive satisfaction that the felony convictions mean "that these defendants will never be permitted to possess firearms again." She also reiterated the Regime’s intent to continue "dismantling" militias and other dissident groups suspected of impermissible animosity toward their rulers.



With Washington Now Imposing the World’s Highest Corporate Tax Rate, Every Day is April Fool’s Day for American Companies

Last year, I expressed skepticism that the White House was serious about reducing the corporate tax rate. And, sure enough, when the Obama Administration produced a plan earlier this year, it was a disappointing mix of a few good provisions and several unpalatable proposals.

This is unfortunate because the United States has one of the most punitive corporate tax systems in the developed world. Indeed, every singe European welfare state has a lower corporate tax rate than America – even leftists nations such as France and Sweden!

For a long time, only Japan imposed a more onerous tax rate than the United States. But even that now has changed. After toying with the idea since 2010, the Japanese government finally pulled the trigger and reduced the nation’s tax rate.

Here’s a brief blurb from Reuters:

"The United States will hold the dubious distinction starting on Sunday of having the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate after Japan’s drops to 38.01 percent… Japan’s reduction , prompted by years of pressure from Japanese politicians hoping to spur economic growth, will give that country the world’s second-highest rate. …The average 2012 corporate tax rate for the 34 developed countries is 25.4 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development."

That leaves America in the unenviable position of having the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate, somewhere between 39 percent-40 percent.

The moral of the story is very straightforward. A high corporate tax rate is a self-imposed wound to American competitiveness. But that’s only part of the story. America also has a “worldwide” tax system, which forces U.S. companies to suffer a big disadvantage when trying to compete for market share in other nations.

No wonder even officials from the Clinton Administration have begun to argue that the corporate tax rate should be significantly lowered.



Bankruptcy can rein in greedy public sector unions

Distressed cities are finally doing what they should have been doing long ago, declaring bankruptcy to force concessions from public unions. Numbers are still a trickle, but at soon as a major city such as Oakland or LA selects that option, we will likely see a torrent of municipal bankruptcies.

At a packed, two-day conference on municipal woes sponsored by Michael Stanton, the publisher of The Bond Buyer Distressed Cities Discuss Bold Tactics in a New Fiscal Era.
The conference was devoted to a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the more powerful tools being used in many cities these days, including receiverships, emergency declarations and even bankruptcy.

Attempts to plug budget holes with one-time transactions are giving way to other approaches, “This is truly a new era for dealing with troubled municipalities,” said Stanton.

New woes were unfolding elsewhere even as a capacity crowd of government officials, investors, lawyers and credit analysts were gathering here to discuss the trend.

In Jefferson County, Ala. — which filed the biggest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy in American history this fall after its sewer-construction financing fell apart and a court threw out one of its taxes — county commissioners were voting to default on a general obligation bond payment.

In Detroit, city and state officials were sparring over how much emergency aid the city might be able to get, and how much state oversight and control would accompany it.

Stockton, Calif., was in negotiations in a last-ditch effort to avoid becoming the biggest American city yet to declare bankruptcy. And just two hours west of Philadelphia, Harrisburg, the state capital, recently announced that it would default on a payment coming due to general obligation bondholders.

Robert G. Flanders Jr., the state-appointed receiver for Central Falls, R.I., said his city’s declaration of bankruptcy had proved invaluable in helping it cut costs. Before the city declared bankruptcy, he said, he had found it impossible to wring meaningful concessions out of the city’s unions and retirees — who were being asked to give up roughly half of the pensions they had earned as the city ran out of cash.

“The municipality is on bended knee asking the retirees and unions to come to the table and give up their contract rights,” he recalled. “All of that leverage shifts once you have the gumption to pull the Chapter 9 trigger. And guess what? That produces agreements quicker and more effectively than otherwise.”

Naomi Richman, a managing director at Moody’s Investors Service, wondered aloud whether it might become more acceptable for cities to declare bankruptcy.

“Back in the ’80s, the stigma against corporate bankruptcy fell away, and it became viewed as a strategy a corporation might pursue for various reasons,” Ms. Richman said. “Recently, with the residential housing collapse, individual bankruptcy has less of stigma in society — it’s a strategy that a person might be advised to follow if they have a debt that they can’t afford. Could the same thing happen for municipal bankruptcy?”

Rhode Island City Offers Gloomy Lesson

The Huffington Post reports As Detroit Bankruptcy Looms, Rhode Island City Offers Gloomy Lesson
Bankers, consultants and elected officials gathered at a conference here on Wednesday to discuss a hot political question for the formerly sleepy municipal bond industry: how to sell the need to protect the rights of bondholders -- the often large, distant financial institutions who extend the credit that keeps towns humming -- when cities enter financial crisis. The issue has most recently been thrown into relief as a Monday deadline for the city of Detroit to accept a consent order to fix the city's budget looms.

From the comments of Flanders and others at the municipal bonds conference, it seems like the industry is in agreement about one thing going forward: someone is going to have to suffer, and it shouldn't be bondholders.

This idea that bondholders should not take losses is ludicrous. Anyone stupid enough to buy Detroit bonds should pay a hefty price. Moreover, since untenable promises made to public unions are generally a leading cause of bankruptcy, public unions should suffer as well.



There is a big new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


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Monday, April 02, 2012

Progressives Simply Do Not Like The United States

Ever heard of Dahlia Lithwick? No? Don’t feel bad. I hadn’t either until I read her piece of … something or other … on Slate about the Supreme Court hearing this week on Obamacare.

A quick Google search turned up her Wikipedia entry, which tells me she’s a Canadian and contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate. In other words, a committed leftist. Lithwick writes:
This morning in America’s highest court, freedom seems to be less about the absence of constraint than about the absence of shared responsibility, community, or real concern for those who don’t want anything so much as healthy children, or to be cared for when they are old.

It’s difficult to tell whether Ms. Lithwick is simply making this up or just dumb. The end result is the same either way. She wants cradle-to-grave government care for everyone. It makes you wonder why she no longer lives in Canada, where they have it, or why so many ungrateful cancer and critical care patients leave the utopia north of the border to come to the United States to receive life-saving treatment.

I’ll address the “shared responsibility” insanity in minute, but first let’s think about the rest of what’s there.

Community. To progressives, “community” means whatever they need it to mean that day. The “black community,” the “Hispanic community,” the “gay community,” the “white community,” the “Italian community,” the “whatever sub-set they need to highlight for victimization or demonization community.” You’d think they were all math majors with all the division they foist on us so they can play various groups against one another to advance their agenda.

Backers of the multi-cultural agenda seek to remove the melting pot that made this country great from the heat that fueled it. Instead, they want to create a coagulated mess that they can mold how they see fit. They don’t want us thinking of ourselves as Americans. All kinds of craziness, such as patriotism and true community spirit, could break out. Instead, they need to foster division to keep people in various Lego-shaped blocks they can stick together and snap apart when it suits them. Look how they’ve pitted the “black community” against the “Hispanic community” in the Trayvon Martin case before any investigation is concluded.

Actually, they’ve gone further than that, they’ve created a new race, the “white Hispanic.” I would say the “white Hispanic community” but there is only one member of that group, George Zimmerman, so it’s not a community, it’s just sick.

As for people wanting healthy children and to be cared for when they’re old, we have that covered.

First and foremost is family. Progressives never admit this, but children raised in two-parent homes are much, much better off than children who are not. That’s simply not possible for all children, but it makes no sense – none – to celebrate single-parent homes.

For children from single-parent homes or two-parent homes who have a difficult time making ends meet, we have Medicaid. The problem with Medicaid, the major reason it is breaking state budgets, is progressives have turned this safety net program for the poor into a hammock for the middle class. There’s no reason a family of four making $80,000 should be enrolled in Medicaid, but that is the standard now in many states. What incentive does a person have to purchase something they can leech from the government?

For the elderly, we have Medicare and Social Security. They’re driving the entire country into financial ruin, which progressives strangely seem to enjoy – but no one talks about changing those programs for anyone within 10 years of retirement. Yet, even here progressives lie. They find one elderly woman who is “forced to eat cat food so she can afford her prescriptions” and present her as the norm. They tell our parents and grandparents this could be them if things go wrong. They do this, by the way, while claiming Republicans use scare tactics to sway voters.

They trot out this cat-food person out for a press conference, pretend there are millions like her, then trot her off stage and – like a prop from cancelled Broadway show – throw her back in the closet and move on. Inevitably, the good people of this country hear about this woman and step up to help her – for real, not for show.

That’s the greatness of the American people – all you have to do is point out someone truly in need, and we step up to help. We do so without a government program, without raising taxes, without progressive “solutions.” That’s why you never hear of them after they’ve been helped – the assistance actually helps them achieve independence, which means they become useless to progressives.

Lithwick continues:
Until today, I couldn’t really understand why this case was framed as a discussion of “liberty.” This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms. It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another, freedom from the modern world in which we live.

Shared responsibility? Freedom from our obligations to one another?

Having done my taxes recently, I can assure Ms. Lithwick I take care of my “obligations,” just as I assume she does. But I’d be willing to bet she lives comfortably and that she availed herself of every deduction her accountant could find. There’s nothing wrong with that, aside from the hypocrisy of refusing to live the life she would impose on others.

But what about the 49 percent of American who pay no income tax? According the Ms. Lithwick we have “obligations to one another.” What is their obligation?

What is the obligation of the heroin addict I routinely see outside the 7-Eleven near where I live to me? To society? If society needs junkies begging and passing out on the sidewalks, he’s holding up his end of the bargain. But I’m pretty sure we don’t. Where is Ms. Lithwick’s “shared responsibility” for him?

I buy him a hotdog now and then, when he’s awake and coherent. Should I send half the bill for that to Slate?

When I was a porter at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership, a fellow porter had five children from three women and a pregnant new girlfriend – all at the ripe age of 22. I paid my taxes, so I took care of my end. He wasn’t paying child support (we were making $8 an hour), so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t taking care of his end. Where is his responsibility? I hope he’s changed but somehow doubt it.

The fact is we have no government-imposed “obligation to one another,” no “shared responsibility.” Nor should we. We’re responsible for ourselves. We care for others through charity. But that’s charity with our own money – given of our own volition. Progressives are quite good at giving away other people’s money. But as the anemic, embarrassingly low charitable giving numbers of the last few Democrat nominees for president show, they suck at helping others when it involves reaching into their own pockets.

So, Ms. Lithwick, we don’t want government reaching into our pockets to pay for what progressives deem moral. We’re quite capable of doing that on our own, thank you very much.

Our Constitution limits what government can do to or for us for a reason – because we’re supposed to do things for ourselves. A government powerful enough to make us engage in commerce so it can regulate it is a government that can make us buy broccoli or join a gym. And while broccoli and gym memberships are good things, we have the freedom to not buy them. And that is a great thing.

If Ms. Lithwick and her fellow progressives don’t like it, the Constitution was made to be amended. But that is the road progressives always refuse to take, because that is the road down which they find out just how unpopular their agenda truly is.



Trayvon Martin Was Not Shot Because He Was Black

That the contrary is believed among blacks testifies to how much hatred of whites Leftists have stirred up among blacks with their constant talk of victimization and racism. Below is what the 6'3" tall Martin looked like shortly before his death

In ways I have not seen in my forty-one years on this earth, this case -- or as it should be properly put -- the out-of-context reaction to this case has been perhaps the single most racially divisive event of my lifetime. (6) More than the O.J. Simpson verdict, more than the Rodney King case, more than any other incident I can call to memory.

The larger question for me this week is not so much the question of "why," because I can easily see how reinforcing racial divides helps a political party, a sitting president, people who peddle hate -- not very cleverly trying to disguise it as civil rights leadership, and even actors such as Sinbad and Spike Lee. No, the "why" of this matter seems easy to me. The larger question to me is, "how?"

George Zimmerman has nearly the same amount of Caucasian blood in him as President Obama does. (8) This alone -- in the President's case -- is an argument against his "whiteness," yet in the majority of early reports (and now, to those who talk behind sandwich counters) the truth doesn't matter.(9)

Zimmerman also has no history of racial animus towards black people. (10) One of his longtime friends, a former anchor for CNN -- who happens to be African American -- has been confirming this across as many media outlets as is possible. (11) Zimmerman and his wife -- it is now being discovered -- have been tutoring and mentoring at-risk African American youths for years, building into the lives of these at-risk children virtues and principals to live by.(12)

Zimmerman didn't target Martin because of race. (13) As a community watch volunteer, and as a licensed concealed-carry gun owner, Zimmerman had been concerned for some time about the amount of violent crime, break-ins, burglaries, and other felonies committed in his community. (14) In recent months, skinny tall guys in hoodies had been terrorizing the homeowners in the area. (15) Since the hoodie was pulled over his head, Zimmerman had no reasonable way to target merely an African American youth, but he did see a skinny tall kid -- that he did not recognize -- and felt if he saw something, he should say something.

According to 911 dispatch, Zimmerman was told that he did not need to follow Martin any further than he had. (Not, as some have reported, that he was actually instructed not to follow.) (16) According to Zimmerman, the police report, and as many as six witnesses: Zimmerman -- after getting off the phone -- retreated from his shadowing of Martin and returned to his SUV. (17) It is unclear as to why, but it is confirmed by multiple people who observed that Martin then turned and stalked Zimmerman. (18) Just when Zimmerman had gotten back to his vehicle, it is reported by witnesses that Martin violently assaulted Zimmerman. (19) And according to Robert Zimmerman, appearing on CNN on Thursday evening, Martin attempted to pull Zimmerman's gun. (20) Quickly the tussle turned serious. Both men in a fight for control of the firearm, one of them was shot seconds later.

The police -- once on the scene -- asked neighbors what they had seen and heard. (21) As many as six witnesses confirmed portions of Zimmerman's overall account. (22) Even so, Zimmerman was handcuffed, given medical treatment to clean up his wounds, taken to the police station, questioned, and released because his account was -- according to those who did the early investigating -- consistent with the evidence. (23)

Now a grand jury is looking into the matter, four different governmental levels of our nation's law enforcement are looking into it. (24) Police reports are being leaked to the press, and when every final bit of CSI material is catalogued a report will be made.

Robert Zimmerman wished to communicate to the Martin family the grief and sorrow that they feel for them. (25)

There are no such wishes being communicated to the rest of America for the damage that continues to be done in the violence that is the refusal to admit truth. (26) Those who do so would rather manipulate media and manufacture outrage all for political opportunity, vain publicity, or financial gain. (27)

Trayvon was not shot because he was black, and not one shred of actual evidence gathered thus far changes that fact. (28)

More HERE and more at GUN WATCH.


How Reagan won young voters

One politician who was not a phony!

‘THE OLDEST president in US history and the youngest members of the nation’s electorate have forged one of the strongest bonds in American politics.’’

So wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer in May 1986. Ronald Reagan was then in his sixth year as president, and his support among younger voters was stratospheric. Eighteen months earlier, a pre-election poll commissioned by Time magazine had found voters ages 18 to 24 expressing support for Reagan over his Democratic challenger, Walter Mondale, by an amazing 45-point margin — 63 percent to 18 percent. Now, the Inquirer noted, Reagan’s support among the young was even greater: According to a new survey, voters younger than 25 were giving Reagan a 79 percent job-approval rating. As it turned out, even that wasn’t his high-water mark. When he left office in January 1989, Reagan’s approval rating among the electorate’s youngest cohort was an incredible 85 percent.

For half a century, the Democratic Party had commanded the loyalty of most new voters. Under the Gipper, the political tides reversed and first-time voters surged to the GOP. Their devotion helped sweep his chosen successor into office; George H.W. Bush was elected with a majority of the under-30 vote. But by the time Bush ran for reelection four years later, Reagan’s magic with the young had dissipated. Bill Clinton won a plurality of the youth vote in 1992, and that age group has voted reliably Democratic ever since.

How did Reagan do it? What made him so strikingly popular with so many voters young enough to be his grandchildren? What, if anything, would it take to persuade today’s youngest voters to give the GOP a serious look? Mitt Romney wondered last week why more college-age voters aren’t “working like crazy’’ to elect Republicans like him. Similar laments might previously have been voiced by John McCain, George W. Bush, and Bob Dole.

Of course there is no single explanation for the political behavior of an age bracket that comprises millions of individuals. Certainly for some young voters it all comes down to ideology. The millennial generation tends to hold strong left-of-center views on many social and environmental issues, and millennials are less likely than older voters to describe government action as inefficient or unfair. It stands to reason that voters who embrace, say, “green’’ energy, same-sex marriage, a highly multilateral foreign policy, and an activist federal government would gravitate to the political party that shares the same views.

Does that mean Republicans must turn themselves into liberals to have any hope of winning twentysomethings back? Of course not. Pandering may be inseparable from politics, but it’s a poor strategy for long-term political growth. Candidates who tell voters only what they think those voters want to hear do themselves and their party no favors — least of all when it comes to the young, who hunger to be inspired and to be part of something consequential, something bigger than themselves.

New voters didn’t flock to Reagan in the 1980s because they were captivated by his views on supply-side economics and the Soviet Union. It would be truer to say that they were captivated by Reagan — by his optimism and authenticity and love of country, by his manifest faith in the people he sought to lead — and so they came to share his political outlook as well.

All other things being equal, are young people more naturally inclined to liberalism, with its appeal to feelings and good intentions, than to conservatism, which emphasizes standards and good results? Perhaps. But when Reagan was in the saddle, all other things weren’t equal.

Like other candidates, he had political ambitions and pursued them, but his career wasn’t strewn with innumerable flip-flops and conversions of convenience. He had controversial views, but didn’t hector the American people with preachy intolerance. He had millions of admirers, but he was no self-worshiping egotist.

And while he may have been an actor, he was never a phony. “Reagan’s lack of guile is one of the things that he has going for him,’’ wrote Meg Greenfield, the Washington Post’s unabashedly liberal editorial-page editor, in 1980. “In fact, Reagan won the nomination . . . with what seems to have been an unusually aboveboard, uncrooked, and uncompromised campaign.’’

Reagan was the first president I voted for, and the only one I ever voted for without qualms. I admired his moral clarity, his sunny outlook, his self-deprecating modesty, his love of liberty. He never had to tell young voters they should be “working like crazy’’ to elect him. So many of them already were.




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